Cats win SEC Tourney title for 26th time

Associate Publisher
Posted Mar 14, 2010
Keith Bays


DeMarcus Cousins converted a missed jumper into 2 points as time expired to force overtime in the SEC Tournament Championship game against Mississippi State. Kentucky went on to win 75-74 in overtime. The trio of UK freshmen starters scored the final 16 points for the Wildcats.

Kentucky and Mississippi State squared off in what could go down as one of the all time best SEC Tournament title games. The game may rank right up there with the 1984 Kentucky-Auburn game that was decided on a Kenny Walker bucket at the buzzer.

Mississippi State appeared to take control at the 2:29 mark of the second half when a Ravern Johnson three gave Mississippi State a five point cushion, 62-57. Phil Turner the stole the ball from Demarcus Cousins after Cousins caught the ball in the post and was swarmed by maroon clad defenders.

Mississippi State worked the ball down to the 1:40 mark when Barry Stewart's jumper was off target. It took Kentucky only 12 seconds before Darnell Dodson launched a three. Kentucky junior Patrick Patterson snared the rebound and put the ball in the goal to cut the State lead to three at 62-59.

In the scramble to steal the ball Kentucky's Cousin slid out of bounds in the backcourt and under a courtside table. The Kentucky big man got off the floor and hustled to the defensive end in time to stop Jarvis Varnado's dunk attempt. An exhausted Varnado missed both charity tosses.

Cousins rebounded the miss, but came up short on a shot in the paint to try to cut into the three point State lead. Dee Bost rebounded the ball, and was promptly fouled by Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe. With Kentucky not yet over the limit the ball was inbounded from the sideline by State.

On the inbounds play Stewart was forced to the corner to receive the pass, where John Wall promptly picked his pocket and drove for a layup to cut the lead to one. 36 seconds remained.

When the Wildcats were unable to steal the ball on the inbounds play the Wildcats were forced to foul, to prevent State from running the clock down to 1 second. Bledsoe gave the foul to Bost, who missed the front end of the one and one.

Bost made up for the miss by forcing Wall into an off-balance shot which bounced off the rim with ten seconds remaining. Barry Stewart rebounded the miss and was fouled by Bledsoe.

Stewart nailed both free throws pushing State's lead back to three. 8 seconds remained.

Kentucky inbounded the ball to Eric Bledsoe, who was fouled at the 4.6 second mark as he drove past Stewart and toward the three point arc.

Bledsoe made the first shot. Playing the percentages, as Kentucky rebounds 45% of its offensive misses, Bledsoe's second attempt was a high arcing soft shot that bounced off the rim and was tapped out to Wall who put up a jumper. Wall's jumper bounced off the rim, but was snared by UK's Cousins, who hit the putback as time expired, forcing the game to overtime.

In overtime Kentucky was able to strike first to take the lead. Mississippi State then charged back to take a one-point lead. Kentucky recaptured a two-point lead on a Wall layup and a Cousins free throw. Johnson tied the game at 69 on a jumper.

Kentucky forged five point lead off a Bledsoe layup and a Wall three sandwiched around a challenged Varnado miss in the paint. Wall's three came with two seconds on the shot clock and under pressure.

Mississippi State went to work on the offensive boards on a Johnson three point miss, followed by a missed Varnado putback. Bost then snared the rebound and put in the deuce in the lane to cut the Kentucky lead to three. Eight seconds remained.

Forced to foul Mississippi State fouled Cousins with less than six seconds remaining. Cousins missed the first, but made the second to give Kentucky a 75-71 lead.

Riley Benock set the final score at 75-74 when he hit a meaningless three at the buzzer.

Kentucky placed a trio of freshmen on the All Tournament team as DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, and Eric Bledsoe all made the five man squad.


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